House fires happen. Some you can prevent and some you can’t. You need to know what to do to prevent fires when you can, and also what to do if one starts without warning.
5 Fire Prevention Tips
Like I said, some fires can be prevented. Make sure that you do all you can to ensure your home is as safe as possible. Here’s a short list to get you started:
- Identify and remove fire hazards in your home. There should be at least 3 feet in between heating items and anything else that might catch fire. Turn off space heaters when not in use.
- Always avoid smoking in bed, and don’t leave candles lit when unattended or at bedtime.
- Keep matches and lighters in high or locked places, away from children’s’ reach. Make sure your children know not to play with fire, matches, or lighters.
- Keep at least one fire extinguisher in your home at all times. Also, be sure you have working smoke alarms on every level of your home and inside and outside sleeping areas. Test your smoke alarms each month to be sure the batteries are working. If your smoke detector is more than 10 years old, replace it.
- Clean out your lint traps and ductwork! If you let them build up, your home may be at risk.
Fire Preparation for the Unpreventable
If you haven’t had to experience a house fire, you should consider yourself very lucky. According to the National Fire Prevention Association, roughly one of every 338 households report a house fire each year. It could happen to any one of us, so make sure you are prepared for the unpreventable.
- Discuss a fire escape plan with your family, and make sure you all have a dedicated meeting spot. Practice your drill twice a year, and make sure everyone can get out safely in under two minutes. Studies show you may only have 2 minutes to safely escape a home fire.
- Prepare your belongings by buying a fireproof safe to keep important documents. Create an emergency binder with important information like birth certificates, marriage certificates, passports, and insurance documents.
- Make sure you know your insurance plan inside and out. What will your insurance cover in a fire? Do they provide temporary housing and for how long? What are the replacement values for your belongings and home? Also, take a video or a picture of each wall in your home, inside your closets, and your drawers. Lock those in your fireproof safe to make an unforgettable inventory of what you own. Establish the date by putting a current newspaper in the video or photo.
- Items you consider irreplaceable like your child’s baby blanket or your mother’s china should be saved in your fireproof safe as well. Consider displaying a replica or take a picture or those items to save in your safe. That way, there is at least a photo to document its story.
During a Fire
It is impossible to know how we will react during a house fire. Below is a list of tips provided by the National Fire Prevention Association to help you survive if you ever find yourself in this crisis.
- Never assume someone has already called the fire department. Call as soon as you are safely out of the burning building.
- Stop, drop, and roll. We learned the phrase as kids and the rules haven’t changed. If your clothes catch on fire, follow those steps and continue to roll until the fire is extinguished.
- DO NOT PANIC. This is much easier said than done, but the fact of the matter is, you can’t think clearly if your mind is in panic mode.
- Use the back of your hand to check closed doors. Feel for heat before opening, and if the door is hot, do not open it. Use a different way out, like a window. If you can’t escape through the window, hang a white sheet or anything you can find to tell the fire department where you are.
- If you’re trapped in a room, stuff the cracks around the door with bedding, towels, tape, or rags. Cover air vents as well to keep smoke out.
- Once you are out of the building, STAY OUT! Do not go back in the building for any reason. Tell the fire department if you know there are others trapped inside the building.
Be Prepared. Be Safe.
Prepare, prepare, prepare! House fires are completely unpredictable, so make sure your family is ready. Share this post with your friends and neighbors so we can reduce the number of household fires in the future.